Monday, February 19, 2018
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: Pistol-packing poltroons owe Obama family an apology

Do you suppose this was the inevitable result when the National Rifle Association appears to have hired Lindsay Lohan to help burnish its image?

How else to explain the National Redneck Association's loopy and dangerous Web video suggesting that President Barack Obama is an "elitist hypocrite" because his daughters, Sasha and Malia, receive Secret Service protection while the president opposes posting armed guards at schools.

"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" the video asks, as if the Obama daughters are the first progeny of a president to have a Secret Service detail.

This is it? This is the best the NRA can do in taking issue with Obama's views on gun violence? To go after 14- and 11-year-old girls? How manly of NRA president David Keene.

It's not too much of a stretch to suspect the video is targeted to appeal to the drooling Mongo wing of the NRA's membership. After all, no coherent, rational member of the gun industry advocacy group would disagree that a sitting president and his family aren't entitled to Secret Service protection.

But it should give pause to those card-carrying members of the Scientology of the gun culture whether they want their names and checkbooks to be associated with a group that not so subtly targets the security of a president's daughters to score political points.

Like most bullies, Keene disingenuously insisted on CNN that an ad specifically directed at Sasha and Malia's Secret Service detail was "not about them specifically." Keene has been inhaling too much gunpowder.

Perhaps criticizing presidential security seemed like a simply swell idea by Keene and his pelts of fellow trigger-happy travelers. So it is probable no one bothered to stop and think over at the NRA's Washington bunker that the inhabitant of the White House often arouses unkind thoughts.

The Secret Service doesn't release precise figures, but it is a generally accepted conservative number that the death threats a sitting president receives is something on the order of 3,000 a year. Still think it's a great job?

The Southern Poverty Law Center has estimated that since Obama was elected president in 2008, the number of known hate groups across the country has risen to around 1,274. It is probably not unreasonable to conclude that the number of death threats against him is probably somewhat north of 3,000 potential plots. Way north.

As recent events demonstrate, we live in a society with no shortage of delusional, unhinged people who have their local gun dealer on speed dial.

Yet against that backdrop of presidential threat levels, paranoid hate groups and a bloody history of mass gun violence, the NRA still went ahead with a video arguing that the Secret Service protection extended to members of the first family is elitist and hypocritical and, by logical extension of its perverse reasoning, undeserved.

It has long been an unspoken rule of what passes for political dialogue in Washington that family members of public figures are off-limits.

Keene and the rest of NRA leadership of pistol-packing poltroons vaulted across that line. Its propaganda video comes awfully close to the edge of being a de facto threat against Obama's daughters.

What a pathetic commentary on the state of Washington discourse that a powerful lobbying cartel is so unable, or unwilling, to debate the issue of gun violence on a higher intellectual plane.

To be sure, presidential life has its perks — the White House, Camp David, Air Force One and never having to stop for a red light.

But the presidency also comes with the dark realization that there are unbalanced folks like Lee Harvey Oswald and John Hinckley and Squeaky Fromme haunting the populace who only need the merest encouragement to embrace their inner Travis Bickle.

Keene and the NRA "leadership" owe the Obama family an apology. They owe their membership a refund. But that would require having a modicum of common decency. It would require being an adult.

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